Gov. Chris Gregoire announced today that the state lottery will issue a request for proposals from the private sector to take over the lottery, on the theory that privatization might save the state money. She said any savings would be earmarked for education.

Gregoire also announced, in the wake of I-1183, the liquor privatization measure that passed in November, that she's scaling back the Liquor Control Board from three members to one.

From her press statement:
“The director and staff will continue to ensure safety through responsible licensing, and maintain our commitment to keeping our young people away from alcohol and tobacco,” Gregoire said. “But we don’t need a paid board for a system that will be mostly in private hands. If a board is needed it should voluntary – like the Gambling and Lottery commissions.”

Gregoire's announcement was coupled with a boastful account of her ongoing efforts to reform government:
 “We’ve confronted the world financial crisis and used it to make state government better, faster and cheaper,” Gregoire said. “Over the past three years, we’ve consolidated state agencies, we’ve eliminated state employee positions and we’ve made more than $10 billion in reductions to current and projected state spending. We’ve seen incredible success with the reforms put in place the last couple of years, but on-going reforms are necessary. It’s been made clear – state government can’t do it all.

It's hard not to sense a bit of defensiveness here. The Republicans in the state legislature have made "Reform before Revenue" their mantra and criticized Gregoire's recent budget proposal—which did not insist on making state employees pay a greater percentage of health care or giving the state a share of tribal gaming funds (their main reform demands)—for failing to take on bigger structural changes. Gregoire has made it clear that the tribes, which are sovereign nations, are not interested in any revenue-sharing proposal.

And, as super-liberal state house Rep. Marko Liias told us yesterday, after scaling back eligibility for the Basic Health Plan and cutting $10 billion in programs, "We've already done reforms." Looking at taxes now, to fix the latest budget shortfall after three sessions of cutting, he said, was "more like revenue last."
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